Monday, October 11, 2010

Christ: The End of Trying (Romans 10:4)

Since man cannot meet the righteous requirement of a holy God through works of the Law and cannot by the labor of his hands fulfill the Law’s demands, his only hope is found in Jesus Christ who did perfectly fulfill the Law in order to redeem him. People that believe they can serve God and please God in the flesh are ignorant about the righteous requirements of an absolutely righteous God and their own sinfulness (Romans 10:3).

The most difficult people on the face of the earth to reach with the gospel of salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are those who have been taught that they are pretty good people and therefore God owes them salvation. The absolute need for any person to be saved is that he or she sees his or her inability to please God in the power of the flesh through works of the Law. The self-righteous are excluded from salvation because salvation is by mercy and not by merit. So the first duty of the faithful witness is to exalt the absolute righteousness of God and thereby show man his absolute inability to measure up. Men must be convinced of their sin if they are going to be convinced of their need for a Savior. As long as we allow men to remain in their self-righteousness by not exposing their sinfulness then we play right into the hands of the enemy of souls and join him in excluding them from salvation.

Many redefine sin in order to remove its offensiveness. Redefining sin as something other than what God has defined it in the Bible and telling men that they are not really as bad as God says they are is a hindrance to men coming to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Sad to say, but this is much of what characterizes today’s evangelism. Sin and repentance are either overlooked or toned down so that men aren’t offended or hurt by the stinging truth of their real condition before a holy and righteous God. The end result is men are offered grace without guilt, healing without hurting, and response without repentance. So these poor souls end up with a false assurance of salvation and will either be legalistic or licentious – not knowing about God’s righteousness!

Since man cannot achieve the righteousness of God – it must be achieved for him through a Substitute and received as a gift on the basis of faith. That being true, then all effort by man to please God in the flesh is an exercise in futility and ends in destruction. However, since the Lord Jesus Christ did achieve the righteousness of God as a Substitute for men who would believe, for them He is the end of attempting to please God in the flesh (Romans 10:4).

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:4). Those who come to believe are those who come to see and know God’s righteousness and their inability to achieve it. They come to know themselves as sinners in the need of mercy! These are the ones that can see that they need a Savior and are no longer blinded by their self-righteousness or their zeal without knowledge. They come to know and understand – not the labors of my hands, can fulfill they law’s demands; could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and thou alone (Baptist Hymnal, Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me, second stanza, Hymn 163). For everyone who believes, Christ is the end of the law for righteousness! Christ is the end of trying!

Salvation isn’t achieved by our trying to live a good life – we can’t; salvation is achieved by our trusting in the finished work of Christ. We become the recipients of the righteousness of God through faith not through the flesh. This is why it written, “The righteous man shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). Believers experience the great transaction – “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Therefore, “[we] no longer live for [ourselves], but for Him who died and rose again on [our] behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:15). We no longer live by the flesh and for the flesh but we live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself up for us (Galatians 2:20).

I want you to notice three aspects about this verse:

For Christ” - Salvation is exclusive - it is in Christ alone – He is the exclusive Savior and Liberator for there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

Is the end of the law for righteousness” – Salvation is liberative – it sets men free from trying and gives them rest through trusting.

To everyone who believes” – Salvation is inclusive – it is for everyone, Jew or Gentile, who comes to know God’s righteousness; his inability to achieve it; and that God has provided it through the finished work of Christ.

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